“Then I shall scatter you among the nations and disperse you among the lands and remove all your contamination from you.” (This week’s Haftara). We must remind ourselves: all our troubles – and there are so many! – are for one purpose only: our merciful Father is removing our contamination in order that we may return to Him in purity!
The secular media these days is filled with accusations against Am Yisroel. One might feel that the entire world is turning against us. My friends, this is correct: the entire world is in fact turning against us. The scene is reminiscent of the days before World War II, but the stage is the entire world. We must be realistic about this.
The days of Sefira (Counting the Omer) represent a period of increasing spiritual elevation leading up to the moment at which we meet Hashem at Mount Sinai. It was during these days that the twenty-four thousand – can we process this number! – students of Rabbi Akiva died, which Rabbi Moshe Heineman characterizes as a “greater catastrophe” than the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem! (Halachos Sefiras Ha-omer and Shavuos, page 22)
During Passover, we say Hallel every day, which is like standing next to King David and praising Hashem! We say the words “all the nations encircle me … surround me” three times. (Psalm 118) Our Rabbis (Midrash Tehillim 109) explain that this is a reference to the three-part war which will take place before the coming of Moshiach. (Redemption Unfolding, Chapter 13)
My friends, we must understand that the tests and accusations we are undergoing now are not accidents. They are preparing us for the moment in which Torah will once again come forth from Yerushalayim and the entire world recognizes G-d’s Presence.
The Chofetz Chaim characterized “chevlei Moshiach” (the “birth pangs of Messiah, the period in which we find ourselves now) as a period during which a rope (“chevel”) will swing wildly through the world. One must grasp tightly onto the rope of Torah to seek safety in the storm. This needs strength, but it will not be beyond our ability, for Hashem is merciful. (Source: Rabbi Yitzchok Tzvi Schwartz writing in Yated Ne’eman, 2015)
Several weeks ago my wife and I were in the Negev. This year the Land of Israel was blessed with abundant rainfall, and we saw the desert in bloom! As the Prophet says, “Your eyes will behold the King in His splendor … the desert will be glad and blossom like a lily. It will blossom abundantly and will rejoice with … glad song. (Isaiah 33:17-35:2)
Would you believe that, right up to the border of Gaza, there are Jewish fields alive with wheat and flowers and trees! And peah! A farmer left peah in his field in the shadow of Gaza! (“Peah” is the Biblical Law under which a Jewish farmer is required to leave a corner of his field for the poor to gather food.)
Can you imagine this! “Mi k’amcha … Yisroel, goy echad b’aretz … Who is like Your people Israel, one nation on earth!” (II Samuel 7:23)
“Hashem is my shepherd… Though I walk in the valley overshadowed by death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. You prepare a table before me in full view of my tormenters.” (Psalm
May we soon see the Day of our complete Redemption!
Picture 1) Pe’ah in the shadow of Gaza
Picture 2) “A land of wheat … where you will eat bread without poverty.” (Dvarim 8:8-9)